Last season, the Caesar Rodney girls lacrosse team was lost in the shuffle dropping out of contention early en route toward a 5-10 finish.

The Lady Riders experienced a lot of growing pains, putting a young team on the field most games a season ago. However, entering a new season, nearly all of last year’s underclassmen are back in the fold this season. Also, in most cases, the returnees this season now have a year or two of experience to build upon.

With some familiar faces back, CR Head Coach Debra Yingling says their experience has helped overcome one of the biggest challenges for any team, finding chemistry.

“It’s so important to be able to click on the field,” Yingling said. “No matter how skilled a team is, if you don’t have strong connections with your teammates you won’t be able to win games.”

While many teams will lean on a strong senior class, with contributions from a few underclassmen, the Lady Riders have impact players back from several classes.

“Our team has many starters from last season coming back stronger than before,” Yingling said. “We have sophomores who now have a year of high school play under their belt, juniors who will help lead the defense and seniors who are ready for a winning season - we’re expecting strong connections between the younger and older players this year.”

Looking to provide leadership this season are returning seniors Jasmin Hall, Karly Timmons and Kacie Cava, while Ellis Isaacs and Alexis Burris look to take another step forward as players in their junior campaigns.

Several sophomores are also returning, including Noelle Ruggiero, Lilly Ayers and Graycie Bachman. Ruggiero and Ayers have already announced their presence, combining for 15 goals in the Lady Riders’ 20-9 win over Indian River in their season opener.

It’s a long season and there are bound to be ups and downs along the way, however, the Lady Riders are already off to a promising start. While it’s a small sample size, CR is only a handful of games away from matching last year’s win total.

Through two games, the Lady Riders are still undefeated, having gotten past both Indian River and Caravel Academy.

While every team’s goal entering the season is to win, for the Lady Riders it’s about building a culture of winning through continued hard work.

“We’re not the young team we were last season, the experience is there,” Yingling said. “During daily practice, we’re not going to let up, we’re going to push each other to stay intense. Each practice session will have a strong focus on developing us into better players.”

When it comes to intangibles, CR’s family-like atmosphere may give CR a boost over other teams this season.

“Every single player on our team loves lacrosse,” Yingling said. “What makes the game better is that we love playing with each other, that’s something unique about CR lacrosse.”

CR will participate in the Dave Reynolds Lacrosse Festival this weekend at Wesley College. The Lady Riders will take on St. Mark’s this Saturday afternoon at Wesley beginning at 5 p.m.